ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Broadway’s Seth Rudetsky comes to American Songbook at NJPAC

By Maddie Orton
Arts Correspondent

Seth Rudetsky has carved out a unique career in musical theater; not just as an accomplished actor, musician or writer — though he’s all of those things — but as an unabashedly obsessed fan.

Whether it’s through his Sirius XM radio show, books, live events or web series, Rudetsky’s encyclopedic knowledge of, and genuine enthusiasm for, theater shine through. That’s why Broadway’s biggest stars are happy to geek out right along with him.

Two-time Tony Award-winner Christine Ebersole joins Rudetsky on stage in this season of “American Songbook at NJPAC” for a different kind of cabaret act.

“I just hate scripted patter. And I love sitting with my friends at lunch and being like, ‘Didn’t your wig once fall off during blah blah blah?’ and [they’re] like, ‘It did!'” said Rudetsky. “So basically the whole show is me asking Christine Ebersole, ‘Wait, how did you get Grey Gardens? What was the worst audition you ever had?’… And we try to link the songs to the stories.”

The show is, in many ways, a combination of Rudetsky’s “Deconstruction” videos in which he breaks down legendary performances, and his “Obsessed!” series where Broadway stars share stories and often perform herculean feats.

“It’s fun for me because it appeals to crazy fanatics that know everything and also people that don’t know anything about Broadway, because I speak in very general layman’s terms,” Rudetsky said.

Rudetsky said he wants people to think about music in new ways as they listen. “You’re enjoying it more because you’re like, ‘I didn’t realize she was hitting that note — that’s so high. Now I can really appreciate it knowing how hard it was for Patti Lupone to hit that without cracking.'”

He asks the questions he’s always wanted to know and gets great stories out of Broadway legends like Lupone and rising stars like Jonathan Groff. His night with Ebersole is no exception.

As if Rudetsky wasn’t doing enough, he begins previews this month for the new Broadway show “Disaster!” — a musical he both co-wrote and performs in. Rudetsky and Ebersole’s episode of American Songbook at NJPAC premieres on NJTV Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 8 p.m.